Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Martin Scorsese/Leonardo DiCaprio Films, Ranked <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>1. <em>The Aviator</em></p> <p>2. <em>The Departed</em></p> <p>3. <em>The Wolf of Wall Street</em></p> <p>4. <em>Gangs of New York</em></p> <p>5. <em>Shutter Island</em></p></body></html> Contributor Film and TV Thu, 28 Aug 2014 05:03:01 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 259301 at Have We Reached Peak Kevin? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In the <em>Guardian</em> today, Paula Cocozza writes about her effort to hunt down the origin of the phrase "peak X." She turned to linguist Mark Liberman, who runs the Language Log <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_matterhorn.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">blog, but he says <a href="" target="_blank">it's a hard idiom to track:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>There is some good news, though. Liberman remembers the first time he noticed the phrase. It was in 2008, when the US writer John Cole blogged that "we may have hit and passed Peak Wingnut", a derogatory term for rightwingers.</p> <p>Cole's post is nearly six years old, but can he recall what inspired the phrase? "I came up with 'peak wingnut' because I was shocked," Cole says. "The Republicans seemed to get crazier and crazier. The source of it is [US blogger] Kevin Drum. At the <em>Washington Monthly</em>, one of the things he was always talking about was peak oil."</p> <p>This comes as news to Drum, who now writes for the web magazine <em>Mother Jones</em>. He was not the only person writing about peak oil, of course, but he was the one Cole read. "I'm very proud of that," he says. "I had no idea that I had been so influential."</p> </blockquote> <p>So now I have three items for my future obituary: creator of Friday catblogging, popularizer of the lead-crime theory, and just possibly the kinda sorta inspiration for the Peak X meme. Not bad!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Energy Wed, 27 Aug 2014 20:28:48 +0000 Kevin Drum 259256 at "The Troll Slayer": Don't Miss This Fascinating Profile of Mary Beard <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here is a partial list of things for which the British&nbsp;historian <a href="" target="_blank">Mary Beard</a> has gained reverence and notoriety:</p> <ul><li>Positing that Pompeiians had <a href=";pg=PA9&amp;lpg=PA9&amp;dq=pompeii+bad+breath&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=dc8LaYIsE5&amp;sig=do6J7fMjzLQNpngHl1eXdzNqknU&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=HzP-U5-CKceIjAKLhYGgDg&amp;ved=0CDMQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&amp;q=pompeii%20bad%20breath&amp;f=false" target="_blank">bad breath</a>, based on tartar levels on their fossilized teeth.</li> <li>Theorizing that Romans <a href="" target="_blank">didn't smile</a>, since Latin lacks words for anything resembling one.</li> <li>Being the world's foremost scholar on how Romans pooped.</li> <li>Going on television without wearing makeup or dying her gray hair.</li> <li>Retweeting a message she got from a 20-year-old calling her a "filthy old slut."</li> <li>On 9/11: suggesting that on some level, the United States&nbsp;"<a href="" target="_blank">had it coming</a>."</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Disclosing that she was raped</a> when she was 20 in an essay on rape in ancient Rome.</li> </ul><p>You can read all about it in Rebecca Mead's <a href="" target="_blank">excellent new <em>New Yorker</em> profile</a> on the endlessly fascinating&nbsp;Cambridge don. It opens on a lecture that Beard gave earlier this year at the British Museum, titled&nbsp;"Oh Do Shut Up, Dear!," on the long literary history of men keeping women quiet, from the <em>Odyssey</em>'s&nbsp;Penelope ordered upstairs to her weaving by her son&mdash;"Speech will be the business of men," he says&mdash;to the death threats, rape threats, and general nastiness that Beard and other outspoken women get online.&nbsp;("I'm going to cut off your head and rape it," read one of her tweet mentions.)&nbsp;For her part,&nbsp;Beard does not subscribe to the "don't feed the trolls" school of thought when it comes to dealing with online assailants. She engages, both publicly and privately, often with&nbsp;surprising results:</p> <blockquote> <p>She has discovered that, quite often, she receives not only an apology from them but also a poignant explanation&hellip;After a "Question Time"&nbsp;viewer wrote to her that she was "evil,"&nbsp;further correspondence revealed that he was mostly upset because he wanted to move to Spain and didn't understand the bureaucracy. "It took two minutes on Google to discover the reciprocal health-care agreement, so I sent it to him,"&nbsp;she says. "Now when I have a bit of Internet trouble, I get an e-mail from him saying, 'Mary, are you all right? I was worried about you.'"</p> </blockquote> <p>Fun stuff. And when you're done with Mead's piece, check out Beard's <a href="" target="_blank">latest book</a>, <em>Laughter in Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up.</em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:40:15 +0000 Tasneem Raja 259241 at New Discovery Cuts Brainwashing Time in Half <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The frontiers of science <a href="" target="_blank">continue to expand:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In experiments on mice, scientists rewired the circuits of the brain and <strong>changed the animals' bad memories into good ones.</strong> The rewriting of the memory wasn't done with drugs but by using light to control the activity of brain cells. While science is a long way from achieving a similar feat in people, it adds to a body of research that is starting to uncover the physiological basis of memory.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yes, I know what you're wondering. And the answer is yes:</p> <blockquote> <p>The researchers said they were able to do the opposite as well&mdash;<strong>change a pleasurable memory in mice into one associated with fear.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>So I guess that wraps up both <em>Brave New World</em> and <em>1984</em> all in one nice, neat package. What could go wrong?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Science Wed, 27 Aug 2014 17:43:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 259236 at Quote of the Day: Let's Just Drop a Few Bombs and See What Happens <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href=";ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000021" target="_blank">From Bill Kristol,</a> during an appearance on conservative radio host Laura Ingraham's show, bringing his megawatt analytic powers to bear on the problem of ISIS in Iraq:</p> <blockquote> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Bill_Kristol.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">What&rsquo;s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens? I don&rsquo;t think there&rsquo;s much in the way of unanticipated side effects that are going to be bad there.</p> </blockquote> <p>You can't make this stuff up. We liberals often accuse folks like Kristol of mindlessly advocating military action all the time, no matter what. But we're exaggerating, aren't we? Nobody literally wants to unleash an air campaign just to see what happens. Nobody just casually ignores the possible drawbacks. That's ridiculous! Why do we insist on juvenile caricatures like this?</p> <p>I don't know. Why do we?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:45:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 259231 at White Privilege? What White Privilege? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's the latest from the <a href="" target="_blank">annals of criminal justice in America:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Beverly Hills police officials said Tuesday that it was "extremely unfortunate" that officers handcuffed and detained an African American film producer who was in the city to attend a pre-Emmy party.</p> <p>Producer Charles Belk "matched the clothing and physical characteristics" of a suspected bank robber when he was pulled over by officers on Friday evening....&ldquo;Hey, I was &lsquo;tall,&rsquo; &lsquo;bald,&rsquo; a &lsquo;male&rsquo; and &lsquo;black,&rsquo; so I fit the description.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Come on, Charles! Buck up. Mistakes can happen. I'm sure the Beverly Hills PD would have treated a white guy who fit the description of a bank robber exactly the same way. In fact, I'll bet this happens <a href="" target="_blank">all the time to Bill O'Reilly.</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:54:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 259226 at Chart of the Day: The Federal Deficit Is In Pretty Good Shape These Days <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>You already know this&mdash;don't you?&mdash;but just to refresh your memories, here's the <a href="" target="_blank">latest projection</a> of the federal deficit from the Congressional Budget Office. As you can see, <em>for the entire next decade</em> CBO figures that the deficit will be running at a very manageable 3 percent of GDP, right in line with historical averages. Be sure to show this to all your friends who are consumed with deficit hysteria. There's really not much reason to panic about this.</p> <p>Now, CBO's forecast doesn't take into account future booms or busts in the economy, since they can't predict those. And as the chart makes crystal clear, <em>that's</em> what causes big changes in the deficit. It's the economy, stupid, not runaway spending. When times are good, the deficit shrinks. When times are bad, it gets worse. If you really want to avoid big deficits in the future, stop obsessing about cutting spending on the poor, and instead spend some time obsessing about economic policies that will help grow the economy.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cbo_deficit_august_2014.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 5px 3px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:51:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 259221 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for August 27, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>The Class of 2015 at West Point receive their class rings as they enter their final academic year. <span id="yui_3_16_0_rc_1_1_1409149090309_1468">(US Army Photos by John Pellino/ USMA DPTMS VI)</span></em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:33:24 +0000 259216 at 40 Percent of Restaurant Workers Live in Near-Poverty <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>It isn't just <a href="" target="_blank">fast-food empires</a> that rely on a l<a href="" target="_blank">ow-paid, disempowered, and quite-often impoverished workforce</a>. As a stomach-turning new report (PDF viewable <a href="">here</a>) from the Economic Policy Institute shows, the entire restaurant industry hides a dirty little labor secret under the tasteful lighting of the dining room.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/10-percent_1.jpg"></div> <p>Here are some highlights:</p> <p><strong>&bull; The restaurant industry is a massive and growing source of employment.</strong> It accounts for more than 9 percent of US private-sector jobs&mdash;up from a little more than 7 percent in 1990. That's nearly a 30 percent gain.</p> <p><strong>&bull; The industry's wages have stagnated at an extremely low level. </strong>Restaurant workers' median wage stands at $10 per hour, tips included&mdash;and hasn't budged, in inflation-adjusted terms, since 2000. For nonrestaurant US workers, the median hourly wage is $18. That means the median restaurant worker makes 44 percent less than other workers. Benefits are also rare&mdash;just 14.4 percent of restaurant workers have employer-sponsored health insurance and 8.4 percent have pensions, vs. 48.7 percent and 41.8 percent, respectively, for other workers</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/poverty-line.jpg"></div> <p><strong>&bull; Unionization rates are minuscule.</strong> Presumably, it would be more difficult to keep wages throttled at such a low level if restaurant workers could bargain collectively. But just 1.8 percent of restaurant workers belong to unions, about one-seventh of the rate for nonrestaurant workers. Restaurant workers who do belong to unions are much more likely to have benefits than their nonunion peers.</p> <p>&bull; <strong>As a result, the people who prepare and serve you food are pretty likely to live in poverty. </strong>The overall poverty rate stands at 6.3 percent. For restaurant workers, the rate is 16.7 percent. For families, researchers often look at twice the poverty threshold as proxy for what it takes to make ends meet, EPI reports. More than 40 percent of restaurant workers live below twice the poverty line&mdash;that's double the rate of nonrestaurant workers.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/wage.jpg"></div> <p><strong>&bull; Opportunity for advancement is pretty limited. </strong>I was surprised to learn that for every single occupation with restaurants&mdash;from dishwashers to chefs to managers&mdash;the median hourly wage is much less than the national average of $18. The highest paid occupation is manager, with a median hourly wage of $15.42. The lowest is "cashiers and counter attendants" (median wage: $8.23), while the most prevalent of restaurant workers, waiters and waitresses, who make up nearly a quarter of the industry's workforce, make a median wage of just $10.15. The one that has gained the most glory in recent years, "chefs and head cooks," offers a median wage of just $12.34.</p> <p>&bull; <strong>Industry occupations are highly skewed along gender and race lines.</strong> Higher-paid occupations are more likely to be held by men&mdash;chefs, cooks, and managers, for example, are 86 percent, 73 percent, and 53 percent male, respectively. Lower-paid positions tend to be dominated by women: for example, host and hostess (84.9 percent female), cashiers and counter attendants (75.1 percent), and waiters and waitresses (70.8 percent). I took up this topic in a <a href="" target="_blank">piece</a> on the vexed gender politics of culinary prestige last year. Meanwhile, "blacks are disproportionately likely to be cashiers/counter attendants, the lowest-paid occupation in the industry," while "Hispanics are disproportionately likely to be dishwashers, dining room attendants, or cooks, also relatively low-paid occupations," the report found.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/health-insurance.jpg"></div> <p><strong>&bull; Restaurants lean heavily on the most disempowered workers of all&mdash;undocumented immigrants. </strong>Overall, 15.7 percent of US restaurant workers are undocumented, nearly twice the rate for nonrestaurant sectors. Fully a third of dishwashers, nearly 30 percent of nonchef cooks, and more than a quarter of bussers are undocumented, the report found. So a huge swath of the people who feed you pay payroll taxes and sales taxes yet don't receive the rights of citizenship.</p> <p>Thus you can't opt out of supporting deplorable labor conditions for the people who feed you simply by refusing to pass through the Golden Arches or to enter the Burger King's realm.</p> <p>So what can you do? One thing is to seek out restaurants that explicitly pay their workers a living wage. Two I can think of offhand: Austin's <a href="">Black Star Co-op</a>, a cooperatively owned gastro-pub that's managed by a "workers assembly" as a "democratic self-managed workplace." Another is Chapel Hill's excellent <a href="">Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe</a>. I'd love to hear about more examples in comments.</p> <p>But these examples are vanishingly rare. The only real solution to the industry's bottom-feeding labor practices are legislative, the EPI report makes clear. That means reforms like a much higher minimum wage and a path to legal status for undocumented workers. Anyone who wants to learn more about working conditions in our nation's eateries should read Saru Jayaraman's outstanding 2013 book <em><a href=";printsec=frontcover&amp;dq=inauthor:%22Saru+Jayaraman%22&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=Jez8U7ukCcW-8gHl_YC4BA&amp;ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">Behind the Kitchen Door</a>. </em>(Read the <em>Mother Jones</em> review <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.)</p> <p>And just for fun, here's the <em>Mother Jones</em> fast-food wage calculator, which will give you a sense of what some workers are up against:</p> <div><img alt="" class="image" id="fast-food-banner" src="/files/big-mac-02_2.png"></div> <div id="fast-food-calculator"> <form id="calculate_this"><label for="household">How many people are in your household?</label> <select id="selected_household" name="household"><option value="1P0C">One Adult No Children</option><option value="1P1C">One Adult One Child</option><option value="1P2C">One Adult Two Children</option><option value="1P3C">One Adult Three Children</option><option value="2P0C">Two Adults No Children</option><option value="2P1C">Two Adults One Child</option><option value="2P2C">Two Adults Two Children</option><option value="2P3C">Two Adults Three Children</option></select><label for="state">Which state do you live in?</label> <select id="selected_state" name="state"></select><label for="locale">Which area do you live in? (Area data not available for households without children.)</label><select id="selected_locale" name="locale"></select><label for="salary">How much do you make in a year?</label> $<input id="input_salary" name="salary" type="number" value="26000"><input id="calculate" type="submit" value="Submit">&nbsp;</form> <div id="calculated" style="display:none;"> <p>In order to make $<span id="salary">___</span> a year, the typical fast-food worker has to work <span id="salary_hours_per_week">__</span> hours a week.</p> <p>A household like yours in <span id="fast_food_calculator_locale">___,</span> <span id="fast_food_calculator_state">___</span> needs to earn <strong>$<span id="fast_food_calculator_living_wage_annual">__</span></strong> annually to make a secure yet modest living. A fast-food worker working full time would have to earn $<span id="living_wage_hourly">__</span> an hour to make that much.</p> <p>The average fast-food employee works less than <strong>25</strong> hours a week. To make a living wage in <span id="fast_food_calculator_locale2">___,</span> <span id="fast_food_calculator_state2">___</span> at current median wages, s/he would have to work <span id="living_hours_per_week">__</span> hours a week.</p> <p>In <span id="living_hours_per_week2">__</span> hours, McDonald's serves <span id="mc_d_customers_served">__</span> customers and makes <strong>$</strong><span id="mc_d_money_earned">__</span>. That's about <span id="big_mac_count">__</span> Big Macs.</p> </div> </div> <!-- data is in here --><script src=""></script><script> var median_fast_food_worker_wage = 8.94; // Source: National Employment Law Project, July 2013; var work_weeks_per_year = 52; var months_per_year = 12; var average_fast_food_worker_hours_per_week = 24.4; var average_weeks_in_a_month = 4.348; var hours_worked_at_full_time = 40; var days_in_2012 = 366; //leap year var McDonalds_customers_per_day_in_2012 = 69000000; // Source: McDonalds 2012 Annual Report var hours_in_day = 24; var mcD_systemwide_restaurants = 34480; var mcD_served_per_hour = McDonalds_customers_per_day_in_2012 / hours_in_day; var mcD_earnings_in_2012 = 27567000000; // Source: McDonalds 2012 Annual Report var mcD_earned_per_hour = Math.round(mcD_earnings_in_2012 / days_in_2012 / hours_in_day); var cost_of_big_mac = 4; var first_state = 'AK'; var first_locale = 'Anchorage, AK HUD Metro FMR Area'; var state_abbr = { 'AL' : 'Alabama', 'AK' : 'Alaska', 'AS' : 'America Samoa', 'AZ' : 'Arizona', 'AR' : 'Arkansas', 'CA' : 'California', 'CO' : 'Colorado', 'CT' : 'Connecticut', 'DE' : 'Delaware', 'DC' : 'District of Columbia', 'FM' : 'Micronesia1', 'FL' : 'Florida', 'GA' : 'Georgia', 'GU' : 'Guam', 'HI' : 'Hawaii', 'ID' : 'Idaho', 'IL' : 'Illinois', 'IN' : 'Indiana', 'IA' : 'Iowa', 'KS' : 'Kansas', 'KY' : 'Kentucky', 'LA' : 'Louisiana', 'ME' : 'Maine', 'MH' : 'Islands1', 'MD' : 'Maryland', 'MA' : 'Massachusetts', 'MI' : 'Michigan', 'MN' : 'Minnesota', 'MS' : 'Mississippi', 'MO' : 'Missouri', 'MT' : 'Montana', 'NE' : 'Nebraska', 'NV' : 'Nevada', 'NH' : 'New Hampshire', 'NJ' : 'New Jersey', 'NM' : 'New Mexico', 'NY' : 'New York', 'NC' : 'North Carolina', 'ND' : 'North Dakota', 'OH' : 'Ohio', 'OK' : 'Oklahoma', 'OR' : 'Oregon', 'PW' : 'Palau', 'PA' : 'Pennsylvania', 'PR' : 'Puerto Rico', 'RI' : 'Rhode Island', 'SC' : 'South Carolina', 'SD' : 'South Dakota', 'TN' : 'Tennessee', 'TX' : 'Texas', 'UT' : 'Utah', 'VT' : 'Vermont', 'VI' : 'Virgin Island', 'VA' : 'Virginia', 'WA' : 'Washington', 'WV' : 'West Virginia', 'WI' : 'Wisconsin', 'WY' : 'Wyoming' } var selected_state = jQuery("#selected_state"); var selected_locale = jQuery("#selected_locale"); var selected_household = jQuery("#selected_household"); for (var state in bfjo) { var option = jQuery('<option value="' + state + '">' + state_abbr[state] + ''); selected_state.append(option); } var fill_locale_selector = function(state_object) { selected_locale.html(""); for (var locale in state_object) { var option = jQuery('<option value="' + locale + '">' + locale.replace(/,.*$/, '') + ''); selected_locale.append(option); } } fill_locale_selector(bfjo[first_state]) selected_state.bind("change", function() { var state = $("#selected_state option:selected").val(); var state_object = bfjo[state]; fill_locale_selector(state_object); } ) /* var fill_household_selector = function(locale_object) { var selected_household = jQuery("#selected_household"); selected_household.html(""); for (var household in locale_object) { var option = jQuery('<option value="' + household + '">' + household + ''); selected_household.append(option); } } fill_household_selector(bfjo[first_state][first_locale]) */ selected_locale.bind("change", function() { var state = $("#selected_state option:selected").val(); var locale = $("#selected_locale option:selected").val(); var locale_object = bfjo[state][locale]; //fill_household_selector(locale_object); } ) enable_disable_locale = function() { var household = $("#selected_household option:selected").val(); if (household === '1P0C' || household === '2P0C') { selected_locale.attr('disabled', 'disabled'); } else { selected_locale.attr('disabled', ''); } } selected_household.bind("change", function() { enable_disable_locale(); } ); enable_disable_locale(); jQuery("#calculate_this").bind("submit", function() { var state = $("#selected_state option:selected").val(); var locale = $("#selected_locale option:selected").val(); var household = $("#selected_household option:selected").val(); var salary = parseInt($("#input_salary").val()); var annual_living_wage = bfjo[state][locale][household]; console.log(state); console.log(locale); console.log(household); console.log(annual_living_wage); var hourly_for_living = annual_living_wage / months_per_year / average_weeks_in_a_month / hours_worked_at_full_time; var hours_to_live_per_month = annual_living_wage / months_per_year / median_fast_food_worker_wage; var weeks_to_live_per_month = hours_to_live_per_month / hours_worked_at_full_time; var salary_monthly = salary / months_per_year; var hours_to_salary_monthly = salary_monthly / median_fast_food_worker_wage; var weeks_to_salary_monthly = hours_to_salary_monthly / hours_worked_at_full_time; var hours_living_a_week = hours_to_live_per_month / average_weeks_in_a_month; var hours_salary_a_week = hours_to_salary_monthly / average_weeks_in_a_month; var commify = function(number) { while (/(\d+)(\d{3})/.test(number.toString())){ number = number.toString().replace(/(\d+)(\d{3})/, '$1'+','+'$2'); } return number; } var salary_string = commify(salary); var yearly_living_wage_string = commify(annual_living_wage); /* while (/(\d+)(\d{3})/.test(salary_string.toString())){ salary_string = salary_string.toString().replace(/(\d+)(\d{3})/, '$1'+','+'$2'); } while (/(\d+)(\d{3})/.test(yearly_living_wage_string.toString())){ yearly_living_wage_string = yearly_living_wage_string.toString().replace(/(\d+)(\d{3})/, '$1'+','+'$2'); } */ jQuery("#calculated").show(); jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_hours").text(Math.round(hours_to_live_per_month)); jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_state").text(state_abbr[state]); jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_state2").text(state_abbr[state]); if (household === "1P0C" || household === "2P0C") { jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_locale").text(''); jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_locale2").text(''); } else { jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_locale").text(locale.replace(/,.*$/, '') + ','); jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_locale2").text(locale.replace(/,.*$/, '') + ','); } jQuery("#salary").text(salary_string); jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_time").text(Math.round(hours_to_salary_monthly)); jQuery("#living_hours_per_week").text(Math.round(hours_living_a_week)); jQuery("#living_hours_per_week2").text(Math.round(hours_living_a_week)); jQuery("#salary_hours_per_week").text(Math.round(hours_salary_a_week)); jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_living_wage_annual").text(yearly_living_wage_string); jQuery("#mc_d_customers_served").text( commify( Math.round( Math.round(hours_living_a_week) * mcD_served_per_hour ) ) ); jQuery("#mc_d_money_earned").text( commify(Math.round(Math.round(hours_living_a_week) * mcD_earned_per_hour)) ); jQuery("#big_mac_count").text( commify( Math.round( Math.round(hours_living_a_week) * mcD_earned_per_hour / cost_of_big_mac ) ) ); console.log(hourly_for_living); var hourly_for_living_clean = Math.round(hourly_for_living * 100) .toString().replace(/(\d+)(\d{2})/, '$1'+'.'+'$2'); jQuery("#living_wage_hourly").text(hourly_for_living_clean); return false; } ) </script></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Top Stories Wed, 27 Aug 2014 10:00:09 +0000 Tom Philpott 259191 at Obama's Iraq Policy Has Been Pretty Masterly <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I'm not a diehard supporter of Barack Obama's foreign policy. Some of his actions I just plain disagree with: the surge in Afghanistan, the enormous increase in drone use, his almost inhuman patience in putting up with Bibi Netanyahu's nearly open contempt for him. Then there are other actions of his that were arguably justifiable but have worked out less well than he hoped. However, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_national_security.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">they mostly represent very, very tough problems. And foreign policy is hard&mdash;especially now. Almost nobody gets even a small fraction of what they want out of it.</p> <p>That said, the relentless criticism of Obama's approach toward ISIS strikes me as unusually shortsighted. As near as I can tell, he's handled it almost perfectly so far. If we had offered air support to destroy ISIS six months or a year ago, it probably would have made things worse. Iraq flatly wasn't able to provide the ground troops to complement an air campaign, and America would have shared in the inevitable fiasco. We also would have been explicitly bound to Nouri al-Maliki and his policies, which were the very ones responsible for the rise of ISIS in the first place. The outcome of all this would have been the worst of all possible worlds for American interests.</p> <p>Instead, Obama allowed Maliki to fail on his own, and then used the leverage of promised American air assistance to engineer his ouster. Needless to say, this hardly guarantees eventual success against ISIS, but is there really any question that it was a necessary precondition for success? I don't think so. Maliki never would have left unless he was forced out, and it was plain that his brutally sectarian governing style was fueling the insurgency, not halting it. He had to leave.</p> <p>The alternative to Obama's strategy wasn't more aggressive action. That would have been disastrous. Nor would it have made a difference if Obama had left a few troops in Iraq back in 2009. Nor would stronger intervention in Syria have made a difference. It might even have made things worse. The truth is simpler. There's no single reason for the rise of ISIS, <a href="" target="_blank">but there <em>is</em> a single primary reason:</a> Nouri al-Maliki. Obama saw that clearly and kept his eye on what was important, working patiently and cold-bloodedly toward engineering Maliki's departure. It was hardly a perfect plan, and messiness was always inevitable. Nonetheless, it was the best plan available. Because of it, there's now at least a chance of defeating ISIS.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Does "masterly" go too far? Maybe so. But I was trying to attract attention to my main point: the ISIS threat couldn't even be addressed until Iraq's political dysfunction was addressed first. Unlike a lot of people, Obama recognized that and stuck to a toughminded approach that focused on getting rid of Maliki instead of getting distracted by endless calls for a stronger intervention before Maliki was gone. It wasn't easy, but it was the smart thing to do.</p> <p>Can the new government fight ISIS more effectively? There's no way of knowing yet. But at least they've been given a chance.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Obama Tue, 26 Aug 2014 17:00:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 259161 at Is Europe's Central Bank Finally Getting Worried About Deflation? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Brad DeLong notes that Mario Draghi, the head of Europe's central bank, went off text in his speech at Jackson Hole. Here's his summary of <a href="" target="_blank">Draghi's extended ad-lib:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The speech text says:</p> <blockquote> <ol><li>The ECB knows that inflation has declined.</li> <li>The decline in inflation has not led to any decline in expectations of inflation.</li> <li>THE ECB will, if necessary, within its mandate, use QE and other policies to keep expectations of inflation from declining.</li> </ol></blockquote> <p>The speech as delivered says:</p> <blockquote> <ol><li>The ECB knows that inflation has declined.</li> <li>My usual line is that the decline in inflation is due to temporary factors that will be reversed.</li> <li>That explanation is now long in the tooth: the longer "temporary" lasts the greater the danger.</li> <li>In fact, it is too late to "safeguard the firm anchoring of inflation expectations".</li> <li>Inflationary expectations have already declined.</li> <li>We will use all the tools we have to reverse this.</li> </ol></blockquote> <p>Is this deviation a mere line wobble....Is this deviation an audience effect....Or does it signal a recognition on Draghi's part that the Eurozone is heading for a triple dip, and that if he doesn't assemble a coalition to do much more very quickly to boost aggregate demand we will have to change the name "The Great Recession" to something including the D-word, and he will go down in history as the worst central banker since the 1930s?</p> <p>I would like to know...</p> </blockquote> <p>I suppose we'd all like to know. The Germans better start taking this stuff seriously pretty soon. They can't stick their heads in the sand and live in the past forever.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:21:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 259156 at Wyoming Is Thinking About Accepting Medicaid Expansion After All <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Michael Hiltzik passes along the news that Wyoming's governor is the latest traitor to the cause of denying health care to poor people <a href="" target="_blank">no matter what the cost:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The reason for Wyoming's wavering is clear: It's money.</p> <p>The Health Department says Medicaid expansion could save the state $50 million or more if it expands the program, for which the federal government will pay at least 90%. Meanwhile, Wyoming hospitals say they're losing more than $200 million a year in uncompensated care for people without insurance.</p> <p>The state Legislature has rejected the expansion, but Republican Gov. Matt Mead has been saying it's time to pack up. He's entering negotiations <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_medicaid_expansion.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">with the feds for a way to expand Medicaid next year, covering as many as 17,600 low-income residents.</p> </blockquote> <p>I imagine that before very much longer, most of the other Midwest holdouts will go ahead and accept Medicaid expansion too. That will leave only the hard-core holdouts of the Old South, where the poor are apparently especially undeserving. I guess there must be some kind of difference between poor people in the Midwest and poor people in the South. I wonder <a href="" target="_blank">what it could be?</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Tue, 26 Aug 2014 15:54:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 259146 at Ukraine Claims it Has Captured Russian Soldiers <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ukraine claims that it now has proof that Russian soldiers have been <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=LedeSum&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">involved in fighting on Ukrainian soil:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Ukraine released video footage on Tuesday of what it said were 10 captured Russian soldiers, raising tensions as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia arrived in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, for talks later in the day with his Ukrainian counterpart, President Petro O. Poroshenko.</p> <p>....The release of the videos and the high-level talks came a day after Ukraine accused Russia of sending an armored column across the border, prompting Geoffrey R. Pyatt, the United States ambassador to Ukraine, to express alarm on Twitter. &ldquo;The new columns of Russian tanks and armor crossing into Ukraine indicates a Russian-directed counteroffensive may be underway. #escalation,&rdquo; he wrote.</p> <p>....&ldquo;Everything was a lie. There were no drills here,&rdquo; one of the captured Russians, who identified himself as Sergey A. Smirnov, told a Ukrainian interrogator. He said he and other Russians from an airborne unit in Kostroma, in central Russia, had been sent on what was described initially as a military training exercise but later turned into a mission into Ukraine. After having their cellphones and identity documents taken away, they were sent into Ukraine on vehicles stripped of all markings, Mr. Smirnov said.</p> </blockquote> <p>This kind of thing represents a cusp of some kind. If it's true, Putin has to decide pretty quickly whether to gamble everything on an outright invasion, or whether to back off. If it turns out to be a Ukrainian invention, Putin has to decide whether to use it as a casus belli. These are dangerous times.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Apparently Russia has <a href="" target="_blank">admitted the soldiers are theirs:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Sources in Moscow have admitted that a number of men captured inside Ukraine were indeed serving Russian soldiers, but said they crossed the border by mistake...."The soldiers really did participate in a patrol of a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border, crossed it by accident on an unmarked section, and as far as we understand showed no resistance to the armed forces of Ukraine when they were detained," a source in Russia's defence ministry told the RIA Novosti agency.</p> </blockquote> <p>Uh huh. I suppose Putin will now claim that detaining the soldiers is an act of war unless they're immediately released.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Military Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:18:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 259141 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for August 26, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>US Marines conduct a Helicopter Support Team exercise. (US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sarah Fiocco)</em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:16:14 +0000 259136 at Charts: Kids Are Paying the Price for America’s Prison Binge <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As students return to the classroom this fall, one large group of children will be more likely than their peers to suffer learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, behavioral problems, chronic school absence, and a host of other health concerns. These are the <a href="" target="_blank">2.7 million US children</a> coping with the stress of parental incarceration.</p> <p>In a <a href="" target="_blank">new study</a>, University of California-Irvine sociologist <a href="" target="_blank">Kristin Turney</a> analyzes data from the 2011-12 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) to determine the mental and physical health effects of having a parent in jail or prison. The results are striking:<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="425" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="425" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>The NSCH surveyed 95,677 children. Turney's analysis found that children with a parent in jail or prison had worse health across all but three tested health outcomes. They were more than three times as likely to suffer depression (6.2 percent vs. 1.8 percent) and behavioral problems (10.4 percent vs. 2.6 percent), compared to kids without an incarcerated parent. Perhaps more surprisingly, parental incarceration was related to higher levels of asthma, obesity, speech problems, and overall poor physical health.</p> <p>Factors that affect health are often interrelated, making it difficult to isolate and study just one: Families already in poverty are more likely to be affected by incarceration, but incarceration can also destabilize family finances. Even when Turney controlled for a host of other factors&mdash;including parental employment and income, ethnicity, parents' relationship status, safety of neighborhood, and parental health&mdash;the relationship remained between parental incarceration and health concerns like learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and developmental delay.</p> <p>In fact, Turney found that children with parents behind bars are as likely to suffer certain health problems&mdash;including learning disabilities and developmental delay&mdash;as children who experience divorce or the death of a parent, witness parental abuse, or share a home with someone with a drug or alcohol abuse problem.</p> <p>"Results suggest that children's health disadvantages are an overlooked and unintended consequence of mass incarceration,"&nbsp;Turney writes, "and that incarceration, given its unequal distribution across the population, may have implications for population-level racial-ethnic and social class inequalities in children's health."</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">One study</a> found that a quarter of black children born in 1990 saw a parent go to jail or prison by age 14, as opposed to 3 percent of white children.</p> <p>Parental incarceration introduces <a href="" target="_blank">significant stress</a> into a child's life, Turney tells <em>Mother Jones, </em>which "leads to negative health effects, especially mental-health conditions." But on top of inherent psychological stress, incarceration can hit a family from all directions: The destabilization of family finances, relationships, and other elements of daily life can cause indirect stress that further impacts a child's health, Turney explains.</p> <p>The NSCH data does not make clear the extent to which direct and indirect stress contribute to poor health, but Turney says she hopes future research will help figure that out: "Because that's really important for where to best invest, in terms of intervening in these kids' lives and where we might be able to develop public policies."</p> <p>She says children can be overlooked as policymakers focus on the health of the inmates themselves. "And while there are certainly a host of negative things that go along with that, we should be thinking about how these consequences can really have spillover effects on families and on children."</p> <p>Incarceration's impact on family life is made worse by <a href="" target="_blank">facilities located far from cities</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">exploitative phone rates</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">lack of official policies</a> to address children's needs, and excessively long sentences. Two-thirds of incarcerated parents are <a href="" target="_blank">nonviolent offenders</a>.</p> <p>Turney has previously studied the way in which <a href="" target="_blank">teachers' perceptions of children with incarcerated fathers</a> can make it more likely for these children to be held back a year in school. She says there is a growing interest in studying parental incarceration, but that researchers are stymied by a lack of good data.</p> <p>Its not just academics who are starting to think about this issue:<em> Sesame Street </em>recently reached out to children coping with parental incarceration by <a href="" target="_blank">introducing a puppet whose father is in jail</a>. As one little girl says in the clip, it gets hardest "when I see children with their mothers, and playing and everything, and I just wonder how it feels to be like that."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Top Stories Tue, 26 Aug 2014 10:00:08 +0000 Katie Rose Quandt 258851 at Earthquake Warning Systems Exist. But California Won't Pay for One. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As Bay Area residents clean their streets and homes after the biggest earthquake to hit California in 25 years rocked Napa Valley this weekend, scientists are pushing lawmakers to fund a statewide system that could warn citizens about earthquakes seconds before they hit.</p> <p>California already has a system, called ShakeAlert, that uses a network of sensors around the state to detect earthquakes just before they happen. The system&mdash;a collaboration between the University of California-Berkeley, Caltech, the US Geological Survey (USGS), and various state offices&mdash;detects a nondestructive current called a P-wave that emanates from a quake's epicenter just before the destructive S-wave shakes the earth. ShakeAlert has successfully predicted several earthquakes, including this weekend's Napa quake. It could be turned into a statewide warning system. But so far, the money's not there.</p> <p>"For years, seismic monitoring has been funded, essentially, on a shoestring," says Peggy Hellweg, operations manager at UC-Berkeley's seismological lab.</p> <p>Maintaining ShakeAlert in its current state <a href="" target="_blank">costs $15 million a year</a>&mdash;a tiny fraction of the estimated $1 billion in damage caused by the Napa quake. Turning it into a statewide early-warning system would require installing new earthquake sensors throughout the state, building faster connections between sensors and data centers, and upgrading the data centers themselves. Since many of California's population centers, including the Bay Area, sit on fault lines, a warning system would likely give residents little time to prepare, ranging "from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds," depending on a person's proximity to the earthquake's epicenter, according to ShakeAlert's website&mdash;not enough time to leave a large building, but perhaps enough to take cover under a desk or table. Warnings could be deployed via text messages, push notifications, or publicly funded alert systems. Setting the whole thing up could cost as much as $80 million over five years&mdash;and keeping it running would cost more than $16 million annually, according to a <a href="" target="_blank">USGS implementation plan</a> published earlier this year.</p> <p>In September 2013, the California legislature passed a <a href="" target="_blank">bill</a> requiring the state's emergency management office to work with private companies to develop an early warning system, but forbade it from pulling money from the state's general fund. The effort got a boost last month when the House appropriations committee <a href="" target="_blank">approved</a> $5 million for the system, the first time Congress has allocated money for a statewide system. But the project is still short on funding.&nbsp;</p> <p>An earthquake early-warning system would not be a unprecedented: Similar systems <a href="" target="_blank">already exist</a> in China, India, Italy, <a href="" target="_blank">Romania</a>, Taiwan, and Turkey. In Mexico City, a warning system connected to sensors 200 miles to the south <a href="" target="_blank">gave residents</a> two minutes' warning before a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck earlier this year&mdash;enough time for many to leave buildings and congregate in open areas.&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>More than <a href="" target="_blank">200 people were injured</a> following last weekend's Napa earthquake, 17 of them seriously,&nbsp;according to the <em>San Francisco Chronicle</em>. Among those hit was a boy who was hit by <a href="" target="_blank">debris</a> from a falling chimney.&nbsp;</p> <p>On Monday, the USGS said the <a href="" target="_blank">likelihood</a> of a "strong and possibly damaging" aftershock (magnitude 5.0 or higher) occurring within the next week was around 29 percent.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Science Top Stories Tue, 26 Aug 2014 10:00:08 +0000 Alex Park 259061 at Here's the Latest Right-Wing IRS Fantasy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's a great example of the conservative media bubble at work. I was browsing The Corner a few minutes ago and came across a post telling me that the government has, rather astonishingly, acknowledged that it has <em>another</em> backup of Lois Lerner's missing emails. Judicial Watch, which has been trying to get hold of these emails, sent out a press release <a href="" target="_blank">trumpeting its discovery:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Department of Justice attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service told Judicial Watch on Friday that Lois Lerner&rsquo;s emails, <strong>indeed all government <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_backup_tapes.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">computer records,</strong> are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe....This is a jaw-dropping revelation. The Obama administration had been lying to the American people about Lois Lerner&rsquo;s missing emails....<strong>The Obama administration has known all along where the email records could be&nbsp;&mdash; but dishonestly withheld this information.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Well. That's fascinating. But I wondered what was really up. I went to Google News but all I found were links to conservative news sites. The Judicial Watch story was plastered over all of them: Forbes, The Blaze, NRO, Breitbart, Fox, Townhall, the Washington Examiner, the Free Beacon, and the New York Observer. But none of the usual mainstream news sources seemed to have anything about this.</p> <p>Except for <em>The Hill</em>. Hooray! <a href="" target="_blank">So I clicked:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>[An] administration official said Justice Department lawyers had dropped no bombshells last week, and that Judicial Watch was mischaracterizing what the government had said.</p> <p>The official said that Justice lawyers were only referring to tapes backing up IRS emails that were routinely recycled twice a year before 2013, when the investigation into the Tea Party controversy began....The administration official said that the inspector general is examining whether any data can be recovered from the previously recycled back-up tapes and suggested that could be the cause of the confusion between the government and Judicial Watch.</p> </blockquote> <p>Roger that. What he's saying is that backup tapes are routinely recycled and written over, but it's possible that some of the tapes weren't <em>entirely</em> written over. There's a chance that old emails might still be at the tail end of some of the tapes and could be recovered. And who knows: maybe some of them were Lerner's. This is, as you can imagine, (a) the longest of long shots, and (b) a pretty difficult forensic recovery job even if some parts of the backup tapes contain old messages. It's certainly not a jaw-dropping revelation.</p> <p>But in right-wing fantasyland, it's no doubt already become conventional wisdom that the feds have some kind of massive government-wide backup system that contains every email ever written by any federal employee. The Obama administration has just been hiding it.</p> <p>Which is exactly what you'd expect from them, isn't it?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice The Right Tue, 26 Aug 2014 05:16:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 259126 at Quote of the Day: Congressmen and Crackpots <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From Jon Chait,</a> responding to Paul Ryan's list of favorite books about economics and democracy&mdash;which notably fails to include his former favorite book, Ayn Rand's <em>Atlas Shrugged</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>It seems the lesson Ryan has drawn from the harmful publicity surrounding his Rand fixation is not that he shouldn&rsquo;t associate himself publicly with crackpot <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_single_theory_professor.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">authors but merely that he should find different crackpot authors.</p> </blockquote> <p>Here is Chait's description of Jude Wanniski's most famous book, which earns a place on Ryan's list.</p> <blockquote> <p><em>The Way the World Works</em> is a novel argument that the entire history of the world can be explained by changes of tax rates. The fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of the Nazis &mdash; Wanniski attempts to explain it all as a result of taxes. It is a work of genuine derangement on the same intellectual level as the sorts of unpublishable hand-scrawled diatribes that I used to scan through when I sorted the mail as a magazine intern.</p> </blockquote> <p>But...but...but&mdash;look! Michael Moore!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Economy Mon, 25 Aug 2014 23:07:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 259116 at Yes, Republicans Really Are Unprecedented in Their Obstructionism <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When we talk about Republican obstruction of judicial nominees in the Senate, the usual way is to look at filibusters and cloture votes. But that can sometimes be misleading, since cloture votes can happen for a variety of reasons. Or we can look at the raw number of seats filled. But that can be misleading too, since this can depend on how aggressive the president is about nominating new judges in the first place. A better way may be to simply look at how long nominees are delayed. That's easier to measure, and long delays mostly happen for only one reason: because the minority party is blocking floor votes.</p> <p>Via Jonathan Bernstein, <a href="" target="_blank">the chart on the right comes from @Mansfield2016.</a> It shows pretty clearly what's happened to judicial nominees over the past couple of decades. <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_nominations_pending.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Under George HW Bush, nominees that made it to the Senate floor were voted on almost immediately. The majority Democrats waited only a few days to schedule a vote.</p> <p>That jumped suddenly when Bill Clinton became president and Republicans started delaying his nominees. Things settled down and delays plateaued during George W Bush's administration.</p> <p>And then came Barack Obama. Once more delays spiked. Even after the rules were changed, delays have stayed high, averaging about 80 days. This is far higher than it was under Bush or Clinton. <a href="" target="_blank">Bernstein comments:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I believe that Senate rules requiring super-majority cloture for judicial nominations are an excellent idea, provided the minority observes the Senate norm of using filibusters rarely. Unfortunately, Republicans simply haven&rsquo;t abided by longstanding Senate norms. After Obama's election, <strong>they suddenly insisted that every nomination required 60 votes&nbsp;&mdash; an unprecedented hurdle.</strong> They blockaded multiple nominations to the DC Circuit Court. They have, before and after filibuster reform, used Senate rules to delay even nominations that they have intended ultimately to support. Since reform, they have imposed the maximum delay on every single judicial nominee.</p> <p>Ideally, I'd like to see a compromise that restores the minority's ability to block selected judicial nominees. <strong>But right now, the more pressing concern is that if Republicans win a Senate majority in November, they may simply shut down all nominations for two full years.</strong> That would be absolutely outrageous. Yet it seems entirely plausible.</p> </blockquote> <p>That final comment is what makes these numbers even more outrageous. It's fairly normal for a minority party to start delaying nominees in the final year or two of an administration. Obviously they're hoping to win the presidency soon and they want to leave as many seats open as possible for their guy to fill. This tends to inflate the average numbers for an administration.</p> <p>But that hasn't happened yet for Obama. His numbers <em>for his first five years</em> are far, far higher than Bush's even though Bush's are inflated by delays during his final year in office. It's just another example of the fact that, no, both parties aren't equally at fault for the current level of government dysfunction. Republicans greeted Obama's inauguration with an active plan of maximal obstruction of everything he did, regardless of what it was or how necessary it might be in the face of an epic economic collapse. No other party in recent history has done that. It's a new thing under the sun.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:48:56 +0000 Kevin Drum 259096 at This Time Is Different <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I was chatting with a friend about the relentless, one-sided hawkishness on display yesterday on the morning chat shows, and he responded:</p> <blockquote> <p>The recurring "stay tuned for" loop are clips of McCain ("We never should have left"), Graham ("ISIS no longer JV"), Ryan ("What's the president's plan for eradicating ISIS?"). Over and over again. <strong>Nowhere are clips of people urging caution or restraint.</strong> War is great news, is action, is drama. Whether consciously or not, the media simply drives inevitably to pushing for a clash.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's really beyond belief. Israel invades Lebanon and gets Hezbollah out of the deal. We arm the mujahideen and get the Taliban and Al Qaeda out of the deal. We depose Saddam Hussein and play kingmaker with Nouri al-Maliki, and we get ISIS out of the deal. But hey&mdash;this time is different. Really. <em>This time</em> we'll be done once and for all if we just go in and spend a decade wiping the theocratic butchers of ISIS off the map. <em>This time</em> there won't be any blowback. <em>This time</em> we'll fix the Middle East once and for all. <em>This time</em> things can't possibly get any worse. Right?</p> <p>Of course, the hawks always have Munich, don't they? Always Munich. And so we need to fight. We need troops. We need <em>leadership</em>. And no one with political aspirations really wants to argue the point. There's no future in siding with the thugs, is there?</p> <p>Besides, maybe this time really is different.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Mon, 25 Aug 2014 14:42:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 259051 at GOP Congressional Candidate Apologizes for Calling Female Senators "Undeserving Bimbos" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Friday, we <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> on Minnesota Republican congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn's history of incendiary comments about women, American Indians, gays, people he suspected of being gay, and President Obama's family. Two days later, Hagedorn <a href="" target="_blank">took to Facebook</a> to issue an apology...of sorts:</p> <blockquote> <p>Over the years I have written political satire and commentary, most of which defended conservative ideals and took aim at national politicians I felt were failing the American people and hurting our country.</p> <p>Even though most of my writings were composed more than 10 years ago, national and DFL liberals are determined to attack me personally, mostly by exhibiting snippets of out-dated, misunderstood or out-of-context material and calling me derogatory names.</p> <p>In this case, the rather worn and tired Democrat tactic of personal destruction and demonization is designed to deflect attention from the serious problems confronting our nation and the failed big government record of President Barack Obama and devoted liberal followers like incumbent DFL Congressman Tim Walz.</p> <p>Of course, these same politically correct liberals remain undeterred by the offensive writings authored in the past by Al Franken. In spite of this hypocrisy, I do acknowledge that some of my hard-hitting and tongue-in-cheek commentary was less than artfully constructed or included language that could lead to hurt feelings. I offer a sincere and heartfelt apology.</p> <p>Rather than dwell in the rigged game of political correctness, my campaign will forge ahead and continue to engage with the people of southern Minnesota and address the issues that will decide our country&rsquo;s future during these critical times.</p> </blockquote> <p>A better way to avoid the "rigged game of political correctness," would be to not disparage all American Indians as "thankless" welfare recipients. You can read more about Hagedorn's past comments <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p></body></html> MoJo Elections The Right Mon, 25 Aug 2014 14:05:15 +0000 Tim Murphy 259046 at Hating On Obamacare Not Really a Great Strategy for GOP Governors <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_medicaid_expansion_reelection.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Does opposing Obamacare hurt you or help you if you're a Republican governor? To find out, Sam Wang took a look at nine Republican governors who were first elected in 2010 and are now running for reelection. The chart on the right tells the story. Governors who have resisted Medicaid expansion&mdash;a key part of Obamacare, and the one that most directly affects individual states&mdash;are generally doing poorly. Those who accepted Medicaid expansion are polling pretty well. However, Wang notes that <a href="" target="_blank">Obamacare probably isn't entirely responsible for this divide:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Think of the Medicaid expansion as a &ldquo;proxy variable,&rdquo; one that is predictive of stands on many other issues. For example, even as Pennsylvania voters have trended toward the Democrats, Corbett got behind several radical redistricting schemes, cut education funding deeply, and compared gay marriage to incest. In Maine, LePage has called legislators idiots and state workers corrupt, told the N.A.A.C.P. to &ldquo;kiss [his] butt,&rdquo; and held multiple meetings with &ldquo;sovereign citizens&rdquo; who advocate secession. In short, if you&rsquo;re too hard-core or offensive, some of your constituents can get turned off.</p> <p>The Republicans Susana Martinez, of New Mexico, John Kasich, of Ohio, and Rick Snyder, of Michigan, look as strong as they did when they were first elected. All three accepted the Affordable Care Act and its Medicaid expansion....This stance by Martinez, Kasich, and Snyder has been predictive of their support of other issues with that have drawn support from both parties. Martinez and Kasich, for example, have pursued education-reform policies that have gained a lot of traction among both Democrats and Republicans. To the extent that governors hold on to their offices in close races, it may be because they have focussed on issues that are important to the voters in their states rather than the core views of their party.</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, refusing the Medicaid expansion is the mark of a true-believing wingnut, and that's not such a great place to be right now. Conversely, accepting the Medicaid expansion is the mark of a pragmatic conservative, and those folks have remained relatively popular.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Health Care Mon, 25 Aug 2014 13:40:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 259041 at Music Review: "To Turn You On" by Robyn Hitchcock <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="robyn hitchcock" class="image" src="/files/robyn-hitchcock-250.jpg"></div> <p>TRACK 3</p> <p><strong>"To Turn You On"</strong></p> <p>From Robyn Hitchcock's <em>The Man Upstairs</em></p> <p>YEP ROC</p> <p><strong>Liner notes:</strong> Hitchcock gives Bryan Ferry's morose love song a charming, irony-free makeover, setting his surprisingly tender vocal to a delicate chamber-folk arrangement.</p> <p><strong>Behind the music:</strong> The former Soft Boys leader teamed with producer Joe Boyd (Fairport Convention, Anna and Kate McGarrigle) for this vibrant mix of originals and covers (Doors, Psychedelic Furs).</p> <p><strong>Check it out if you like:</strong> Vital vets like Richard Thompson and Marshall Crenshaw.</p> <p><em>This review originally appeared in our <a href="" target="_blank">September/October issue</a> of</em> Mother Jones.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 25 Aug 2014 10:00:12 +0000 Jon Young 259006 at Liam Bailey's "Definitely Now" is Sneakily Addictive <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><strong>Liam Bailey<br><em>Definitely NOW</em><br> Flying Buddha/Sony Music</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Liam Bailey" class="image" src="/files/MTnyzePo_0.jpeg" style="height: 275px; width: 275px;"></div> <p>Liam Bailey's smoky rasp of a voice would enhance any setting. On this sneakily addictive debut, the UK singer skillfully mixes slick modern pop, old-school soul, torch ballads, and a dash of reggae, creating a familiar yet fresh brew reminiscent of the great Amy Winehouse, an early champion of his. Where some young vocalists tend to emote excessively in an attempt to show off their skills, Bailey makes a virtue of understatement. He's thoroughly engaging on uptempo numbers like "Villain" and "Fool Boy," but especially effective on slower late-night tunes such as "Autumn Leaves" (not the pop standard) and "So, Down Cold." Make it mellow, Liam.</p> <p><em><strong>Also read:</strong> Bailey <a href="" target="_blank">spoke to photographer Jacob Blickenstaff</a> about making the album and his split with Jimi Hendrix's old label, Polydor.</em></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 25 Aug 2014 10:00:09 +0000 Jon Young 258901 at 10 of the Worst Congressional Acronyms Ever <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ten of the worst (or possibly greatest) congressional backronyms&mdash;intentional acronyms created by attention-seeking lawmakers, or more likely, their poor staffers:</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>CHOMP:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Consumers Have Options for Molar Protection Act</a>, sponsored by former Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.)</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>STALKERS:</strong> <a href=";summ2=m&amp;" target="_blank">Simplifying The Ambiguous Law, Keeping Everyone Reliably Safe Act</a>, sponsored by Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.)</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>HELLO:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Help Eliminate the Levy on Locution Act</a>, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>SWEETEST:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Saccharin Warning Elimination via Environmental Testing Employing Science and Technology Act</a>, sponsored by former Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R-Mich.)</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>CHURCH:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Congressional Hope for Uniform Recognition of Christian Heritage Act</a>, sponsored by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>DRONES:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Designating Requirements On Notification of Executive-ordered Strikes Act</a>, sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>PROSTATE:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Prostate Research, Outreach, Screening, Testing, Access, and Treatment Effectiveness Act</a>, sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>STOP SMUT:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Special Taxation On Pornographic Services and Marketing Using Telephones Act</a>, sponsored by former Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.)</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>CAN SPAM:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act</a>, sponsored by ex-Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.)</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>DAIRY:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Dairy Augmentation for Increased Retail in Yogurt Products Act</a>, sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong><span style="color:#0000CD;"><u>HONORABLE MENTION</u></span><br> SAFETEA-LU:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users</a>, sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) in honor of his wife, Lu</p> <p>For many more wonderfully bad backronyms, check out Noah Veltman's <a href="" target="_blank">"congressional acronym abuse" tracker</a>.</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Top Stories Mon, 25 Aug 2014 10:00:08 +0000 Dave Gilson 257851 at